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"It's Great to Be Alive" ..... and Help Others!

The Golden Thread
The Voice of the Fort Lauderdale Chapter #60 of "The Mended Hearts Inc."

Special Online Edition

The Golden Thread is the official newsletter for Chapter 60, the Fort Lauderdale Area Chapter, of “The Mended Hearts, Inc.” We print it each month with the exception of July and August. We use this letter to keep in touch with our members, the national organization, the patients we have visited in the hospital and all other persons interested in our program to support heart recovery patients.

In our newsletter we advise our readers what is scheduled for the next meeting and succeeding ones. We report on what has happened at the prior meeting. We announce the next Board of Directors’ Meeting and any other special meetings and events. We regularly recognize birthdays and surgical anniversaries of our members. It is always a pleasure to welcome new members. Special programs such as the “Ethel Sanders Cardiac Camp Fund,” the American Heart Association activities and the Bingo and Christmas/Hanukkah luncheon. In addition we feature special health related articles.

“The Mended Hearts, Inc.” is an international organization with over 250 chapters in the United States and Canada. The total membership is over 25,000. The total number of patients visited annually is over 150,000 and there are over 3000 accredited visitors belonging to the Mended Hearts. The national organization is supported by the American Heart Association and membership dues. Our local chapter, #60, is supported by the Florida Medical Center, the local affiliate of the American Heart Association and our own membership through dues and contributions.

Chapter 60 was formed in 1978 with the assistance of Dr. Eugene Mascarenhas, Cardiologist. He is still on staff at Florida Medical Center.

Our regularly scheduled general support meetings are on the second Sunday of every month at 2:00 p.m. They are held in the auditorium of the Florida Medical Center. Besides the monthly meetings our members visit patients in the hospital to offer them encouragement and non-medical advice. This is one of our most important endeavors. We have a special project in which we raise money to send children with generic heart problems to Camp Bon Coeur (Camp Good Heart). It is a camp dedicated to children so afflicted. These kids can’t compete in a regular camp atmosphere. At Bon Coeur the activities are scaled to their limited ability.

At our monthly meetings we have speakers from the medical field. We also devote time to have an exchange of information between the members and guests. Many post surgical patients feel that their problems are unique. Through dialog you will see that there are others who have had similar experiences and recovered. We look forward to meeting you and your family at one of our meetings in the near future.

At your request (email mendedheartsch60@aol.com), we will send you a copy of “The Golden Thread” for three months. It will let you know about our organization and its activities. We encourage you to join us.

Mended Hearts has much to give. We have an apt motto. “It’s Great To Be Alive and to Help Others.”

Experiences You may have as you recover from Heart Surgery

After surgery it is not uncommon to have questions about what you are feeling as your body heals. As Mended Hearts we can assure you that many of your feelings are not unusual; and we can share some of our experiences with you.

INCISION. Many of the concerns that people voice are a feeling they are experiencing around the incision (wound). The incision may be sensitive to light touch such a T-shirt or blouse. Women may feel uncomfortable in the area where their bra is in contact with the wound. It may help to wear a thin dressing over the wound to reduce friction from the clothing.
ITCHING. Your wound may feel itchy. Itching all over the body may be due to dry skin from the soap you used in the hospital or to the medications you are on. You can try using a lotion for dry skin. Do not apply lotions, ointments or salves to your incision while it is healing. If the itching does not go away call your doctor.
SENSATIONS. Many people notice new sensations in their chest, arms and legs, depending on where the grafts were or were removed. These include occasional sharp shooting pains, numbness, tingling or a burning sensation. These are often due to the healing process. They will usually go away with time.
ACHES AND PAINS. Aches and pains may occur in the neck, chest, shoulder and back. This is common and occurs due to the position you were placed in surgery and perhaps the position you are in while you sleep. Try a heating pad placed in the area of discomfort (not too hot.) Use pillows to support your back and neck. If you sleep on your side, you may try hugging a pillow. Your doctor may be able to suggest some medications that will help with the discomfort.
HEARTBEAT. You will probably be more aware of your heartbeat. It may feel that your heart is pounding, especially at night when you are lying quietly on your side. It is also normal for your heart to beat faster. This may make you feel nervous or scared - but it is normal. If your heart beat becomes very fast or your beat is irregular, call your doctor. This is very common after open heart surgery and may need to be controlled by medication.
SWELLING. If you have veins removed from your legs for bypass surgery, you may notice swelling in the leg(s). If radial arteries are removed, you may experience swelling in your hand(s). Some helpful hints to lessen swelling include: Do not cross your legs. Walk every day. Do not stand in one place for long periods of time. Try elevating your feet when resting. Using your hands and arms freely will help reduce swelling in your hands.
HOT AND COLD. You may perspire more, especially while resting or sleeping. Many people also say they feel hot and cold differently than they used to. This will go away with time.
EATING. You will notice that the food just does not taste the same or you can not tolerate certain types of foods. Lack of appetite is also common. This too will go away with time. Try eating smaller and more frequent meals. Remember you need to eat healthy foods to help you heal and get your strength back.
OTHER PERCEIVED PHYSICAL CHANGES. There are some feelings that may be more difficult to describe, but concern you. For example, some people say they can not see as well as before surgery - feeling unable to focus. This should not be severe. Usually your vision will return to normal within six weeks. It is probably not a good idea to make changes in your prescription glasses until after your recovery time. Other types of vision problems should be reported to your doctor.
CONCENTRATION. You may have trouble concentrating for long periods of time. Some people are not able to read lengthy books as they feel distracted, or their minds may wander. Others notice that their handwriting is different or that their fine motor movements are more difficult. These feelings also will improve with time. Don’t set yourself up for frustration by getting back to tasks which require close attention (such as your job) before you are ready.
MOODS. It is common for people to feel happy sometimes, then sad other times - even teary. These feelings may be due to feeling very tired or not knowing what to expect. They should go away after a few weeks as you get back to your normal routine. It may be helpful to talk to someone about your feelings.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP. We of Mended Hearts are here to help you through your recovery. If you need to talk to someone from Mended Hearts, please call Roz Gilbert, our visitor chair person, at 748-9372 and she will put a patient visitor in touch with you.

Who! How! and Why! of The Mended Hearts

Our members are people, just like yourself, who have gone through heart surgery, valve surgery, angioplasty or other heart procedures. They and their families have found support from within Mended Hearts. We want you to join us.

To do so, you may request an application (email mendedheartsch60@aol.com), or better still, come to a meeting where you will have a chance to observe Mended Hearts first hand. We will be happy to show you the advantages of membership. The interaction between yourself and other heart recovery patients is the best therapy. When you no longer feel the need for encouragement it can be your turn to support others.

The Mended Hearts, Inc. is an affiliate of the American Heart Association.
Copyright 2000 The Mended Hearts, Inc.